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Top 5

Enjoy On-Time, On-Budget Projects with Agile Methods

by Kevin Brown

Since the publishing of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, proponents of Agile development and project methodologies – which rely on a time-boxed, iterative project approach that encourages a rapid and flexible response to change – point to a handful of key principles that are reflected in almost every successful development or project. Whether a project is to be run strictly under Agile methodologies or not, these Top 5 key principles are of great benefit.

1. Top 5Build projects around motivated individuals; support them, and then trust them. Ever led a project where the staff had already given their notice and were serving out their last few months, or were quite unhappy with the company they were working for, or were simply not of the skill and ability a line manager wanted so were dumped onto your project? Sadly, these unhappy situations are very common for project staffing, yet they directly lead to failure of the project. In comparison, motivated, well-supported and trusted teams can achieve great things. A team that is well-supported gets the tools and the resources they need to succeed. And if you trust your team, you will not second guess their tools and resourcing needs.

2. Talking face-to-face is the most effective and efficient method of conveying information. The people with the most visible success/failure metrics are those who sell high-cost services. Their number one mantra is “get in front of the customer.” While phone, text messaging and email are useful tools, they are not as effective and efficient at conveying information as sitting down with someone. High-quality video teleconference is a good substitute but not a replacement.

3. Business people must work together daily. The purpose of a project is (normally!) to help the business, not to seek budget, activity or employment for IT. The business needs to be engaged daily, face to face, so it can help formulate and re-formulate its needs as the project evolves.

4. Deliver frequently. Salespeople love to sell projects whose first legitimate, useable, measurable business result deliverable is three years from now. Then they can cash their checks and move on in their careers before it all falls apart! We all know that the early steps of a project are essential. Subsequent steps evolve, and each step can deliver something of genuine business value. Organize the project to do this. If valuable deliverables are not apparent, the project is in trouble. Revisit its validity and continuously evaluate the project to see if it is or will meet its objectives. Kill it if it is not.

5. Remember WIRC. This mnemonic device will help you remember key relative value lessons from the Agile Manifesto. While Agile methods operate on the idea that some fairly standard activities are valuable and often necessary, its success greatly depends on a few certain activities.

Agile values this more: Agile values this less:
Working software Comprehensive documentation
Individuals and interactions Process and tools
Responding to change Following a plan
Customer collaboration Contract negotiation

 

With the application of a few key Agile principles, most projects will deliver results that satisfy the business. To discuss Agile project methods further, contact Kevin Brown at ISG.

About the author

Mr. Brown brings expertise in IT technology sourcing strategy and sourcing implementation to ISG clients in his role as a Director. Having lived and worked in 10 countries across Asia, Europe and the US, he brings a humanistic multi-cultural expertise to creating and implementing sourcing strategies and solutions. He has special expertise in governing sourcing relationships, serving many clients in this role.